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PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

Stick To Your Guns!

By Despina


"Come and audition - this Friday night. We need to see you in front of an audience…Money? No, we won't pay you, it's just an audition."

Who's heard this before? Your answer: NO! You're being conned into doing a freebie show. Don't think you're doing yourself any favours, because people don't value what they get given for free.

No matter how eager you are to perform, don't allow yourself to be haggled down to a bargain basement price. Find out what other dancers charge to make sure you're not undercutting. Stabbing your sister performers in the back like this only helps to create enemies for you. It just makes things harder for the rest of us and for others down the track.

Set a price and keep it universal for all the restaurants. The restaurant owners do talk to each other - they don't want to find out you're charging them more than the guy down the road. If they do make such a discovery, you're likely to be out of a job in no time.


And remember that restaurant and club owners will ALWAYS try to lower the price. Sell your talent cheaply and you will be treated that way.

So on a practical level, what do you say to a restaurant owner trying to lower your price?

Restaurant owner: What do you charge?
Dancer: $X per show.
Restaurant owner: Come on, you can do better than that!
Dancer: You'll find that all the restaurants employing me get charged the same. That's my price.

If you don't end up getting the job because they can find someone to do it for 50 cents, then so be it! And for those of you who are novices in the world of Oriental Dance, don't be fooled into thinking that you will win money-wise if you undercut. For the amount you put into to putting on a show, the amount you get is always a lot less. This is of course if you really care about what you do and put a lot of effort into it. If not, you're better off taking your final bow and retiring before you even start.




About the Author

Originally inspired by the 1960's television show I Dream of Jeannie, Despina has been studying Oriental Dance since 1992. She studied with a variety of people, representing a variety of different belly dance styles, and through that acquired a broad perspective on the dance. She started performing professionally in 1995 and then teaching in 1997. Her mentor, Amera, has provided a great deal of valuable guidance over the years.

Since 1998, Despina has dedicated herself full-time to teaching and performing belly dance. In 2002 she completed Belyssa's Bellydance Teacher Training Course.

Despina has contributed several articles to this web site.

For more information about her dance studio in Australia and its activities, see her web site at:

Click on the photo to the right to see Despina's picture in more detail.




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